The Red Road ProjectPhotography exhibition of Carlotta Cardana and Danielle SeeWalker
Villa Giulia, Corso Zanitello - Verbania
The Verbania Museo del Paesaggio presents The Red Road Project at Verbania Pallanza’s Villa Giulia, a project by photographer Carlotta Cardana and artist Lakota Danielle SeeWalker.
Curated and produced by Fonderia 20.9 in Verona, the exhibition focuses on the identity relationship between community, culture and landscape, specifically in a rereading of the complex modern bond between the Native Americans and their land and traditional culture. Around 70 works, including archive images and photographs made specially for the project, explore and document the relationship between Native American traditional culture and the identity of today’s tribal peoples in a journey through various US states.
THE RESEARCH PROJECT ACCORDING TO ITS AUTHORS
Constituting just 1% of the total American population, the Native Americans frequently live at the margins of society and their voices are not heard. They have long suffered a sort of forced segregation on the bottom rungs of American society, according to all indicators from unemployment rates of 88% to the second lowest life expectancy rates in the world. It is not going too far to say that the Indian reserves are “Third World islands” within the greatest world economic power. Drug addiction, alcoholism, sexual abuse, poverty, criminality and the country’s highest suicide rates are just some of the consequences of centuries of oppression and ongoing attempts at assimilation.
The Red Road Project aims to explore the relationship between the traditional culture of the Native Americans and the identity of today’s tribal populations via a journey through North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming, Nevada, Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, California, Louisiana and North Carolina.
The title of the project is a reference to teachings which encourage them to follow the ‘red road’, i.e. proceed in the direction of positive change in the face of an adverse context and, for this reason, the efforts of Native Americans to improve their community’s condition and regain their identities is even more surprising. The bond with the earth, their languages and their traditions are just some of the tools used for this legitimation and improvement process.
In addition to examining the present state of the Native Americans, the exhibition also tells certain historic facts such as the story of the ‘boarding schools’ to which Indian children were sent from the end of the 19th to the beginning of the 20th centuries until they reached adulthood. Working on the basis of the motto “Kill the Indian but Save the Man”, these schools led to the almost total loss of traditions and languages.